Morton 1 - Graham (42)
Att - 3,952
Morton were unlucky to lose this match after an excellent second half performance but a Chris Templeman miss proved to be a pivotal moment.
Our injury situation enforced a series of changes for this match. Dean Keenan's role as a defensive midfielder was filled by Jay Shields. Kevin Finlayson came in for Michael Gardyne and Brian Graham replaced flu stricken Iain Russell. We started with a a very strange 4-5-1 formation. The usual defence but with Kevin Finlayson, Jay Shields and Jim McAlister in the centre of midfield with Graham and Stevenson on the left and right wings respectively and Templeman up front himself. Kevin Finlayson tucked in one on the right was particularly perplexing. However our terrible start led to a quick change of thought by Jim McInally. Brian Graham was pushed up front to partner Templeman, Stevenson moved to the left wing with Finlayson now on the right.
Dundee took the lead after only 2 minutes in what can only be described as a comedy of errors. Daquin and McDonald combined on the left and Morton attempted to defend the situation as a Boys Brigade team would ( that's probably offensive to a BB team) as Jay Shields, Peter Weatherson and Kevin Finlayson all ran out to confront McDonald who slipped a lovely ball between the three to Freddy Daquin who was inexplicably unmarked while three players were at McDonald. Daquin clipped a cross in to the near post where Czech defender Milan Palenik arrived totally unmarked ( a recurring theme where our defence is concerned) to reach out a leg to knock it past Lee Robinson - who had completely misjudged the situation - and then ram home on the line.
Our first half performance was terrible. The defence were all over the place and the midfield were being taught a lesson by Kevin McDonald. These defensive frailties were evident shortly after Dundee's opener. A flick on by the unmarked (recurring theme) Zemlik - who continued his persistent fouling seen against Celtic in midweek - was not dealt with by Ryan Harding who stumbled clumsily and fell allowing Bob Davidson a one-one-one chance but luckily for us he elected to volley over from just inside the box.
Our equaliser was a travesty, a total injustice, an unfair reflection of the game but you didn't hear any Morton fans complaing when Brian Graham curled a stunning left foot effort into the postage stamp top corner. The finish topped off a flowing move that Graham himself started off with a flick on. Stevenson picked the ball up and played in Jim McAlister with a great ball through MacKenzie's legs, Jim then turned and laid the ball off for Graham to shoot and score.
Early in the second half we had a free kick in a dangerous position. After last weeks thunderbolt you'd think Stevenson would try his luck again but Peter Weatherson decided to take it and curled over. I've included a video of the free kick below:
Our second half performance was much improved we were a threat going forward and Jay Shields was almost controlling the game in centre midfield. He was playing all the right passes, keeping it simple but usuing the ball effectively. So it was a doubly cruel blow when Dundee scored their winner against the run of play and through Jani Sturm - the Slovenian striker who rejected Morton earlier in the season. Neat link up play set Gavin Swankie away down the left, he confronted Peter Weatherson and skipped by Peter's poor attempt to tackle to race to the bye line. From there Swankie clipped a great ball to the back post for the unmarked Scott Robertson to crash a header against the crossbar. Sturm was the quickest to react as he bundled home what proved to be the winner. If I were a Dundee fan I'd be calling for Sturm to start ahead of Jan Zemlik. Zemlik is a human battering ram but that's about all he's got in his locker. You can tell from his movement and ability to snap up chances that Sturm could go on to score a lot of goals in this division if given the chance.
It could've all been so different if Chris Templeman had converted a great chance at 1-1. Kevin Finlayson, who had a fine second half, skipped past the highly rated left back Dixon before swinging over an amazing inch perfect cross (no honestly) for Templeman who was arriving at the back post. It seemed to be a simple diving header to give us the lead but the big striker somehow managed to glance the ball over the cross bar. A critical miss that changed the game and one that any striker worth their salt has to be putting away. I like Templeman but this sort of finishing is unacceptable.
All in all a very good performance in the second half meant we probably deserved to walk away with a point but terrible defending and a shocking miss meant that we travelled back with nothing to show for it. If we continue to defend like this leaving away venues with no points will be as much of a recurring theme as unmarked Dundee players were in this match.
Morton (4-5-1, quickly changed to 4-4-2):
1. Robinson - 5
2. Weatherson - 5
3. Walker - 6
4. Harding - 4 (12. Linn - 79 mins)
5. Greacen - 6
6. Shields - 8
7. Finlayson - 7
8. Stevenson - 7
9. Templeman - 6
10. Graham - 7
11. McAlister - 8
Subs Not Used:
Booked: Weatherson, Shields, Finlayson.
Dundee: Samson, Griffin, MacKenzie, Palenik, Dixon, Daquin, McDonald (McHale 80), Robertson, Swankie, Davidson (Lyle 46), Zemlik (Sturm 65). Subs Not Used: White, Rae
My man of the match: Jay Shields
Sponsors man of the match:
Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)
Watch the goals and a selection of highlights here: http://www.thedees.co.uk/downloads/interactive/morton_001.mov
Scotland On Sunday match report: http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/football.cfm?id=1561872007